For some, becoming a journalist is been able to gain instant recognition in society without reference to the professional objective, whilst for others inspired by the divine calling of God, withstanding the odds associated therewith without withdrawing therefrom as means to serving society for its good as evaluated from meaningful contributions made remains their passion.
Thus, with 80 deaths of Liberian journalists under various circumstances thus far recorded by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), though the number could be more, those contributing to the metamorphic changes that continue to occur in society that has culminated to what is today being described as relative press freedom ought to therefore be remembered in no small way.
Against this firm backdrop and having in recent weeks witnessed the death of not only a prolific writer of persuasion and objectivity, Mr. Thomas Saa Kemore Kamara, popularly called “Uncle Tom” by many close friends and relatives, wake-keeping and funeral services over the deceased were respectively held last Friday and Saturday, with the former occurring at his residence on the Monrovia-Robertsfield highway where many could not have accessibility due to transportation and other problems.
Whist both services had however attracted huge number of family members, friends and other sympathizers, the funeral service conducted at the St. Augustine Episcopal Church on the Bardnersville Road at which the Reverend Father G. Nyema Harmon chose to dwell on a theme that truly represented the lifestyle of the journalistic hero proved quite exceptional.
Settling down upon “Live In Peace and Rest In Peace,” instantly reminding few of Mary Baker Eddy who, in her book “… Key to the Scriptures” truthfully revealed that “We cannot build safely on false foundations,” stressing that “Truth makes a new creature, in whom old things pass away and all things are become new,” her further assertion that “We cannot fill vessels already full,” since “they must first be emptied,” the disrobing of error in order to allow the winds of God to blow in order not to hug our tatters close about us become the spiritual preoccupation by the called.
Short, sweet and to the point as is encouraged in journalistic composition and as Rev. Fr. Harmon’s homily became to hundreds of mourners at the funeral service of “Uncle Tom” on Saturday, with the venue also depicting his lifestyle that was void of bigotry but simplicity at whatever he possessed or did, however always remaining mindful about his environment and serving the public good, the Episcopal prelate was at all not mistaken to have underscored that “to live in peace is to know God and to know the truth.”
Further stressing that one must also “know the way in knowing the truth,” his admonition to family members and hundreds of sympathizers not to heat up fire but to live in peace with fellowman, since “God is the overflow of peace and not confusion” ought to send clear message to the living that no matter from which persuasions they may come, the truth, referred to in one of the eight dialects spoken in the home-county of the deceased as garmai, must always serve as guide, since it sets man free as inherent in the traditional culture of the Lofa people.
Hard-hitting, though, some may have described the prolific writing of “Uncle Tom” who hailed from Sodu Town in the Kissi Chiefdom, Foya District, Lofa County, considered one of the major rice and cash crops producing areas and gaining the impetus from parental upbringing, he now rests in the heavenly bosom of Father Abraham.
Born unto the union of Mr. Boakai Kamara and Mrs. Sia Dormonie Kaba-Kamara on March 2, 1949, “Uncle Tom,” just as most citizens from the countryside would experience, especially been from poor parental background but very good at their daily chores, gradually excelled the hard way which many dislike by beginning his academic sojourn at the Kolahun Primary School, now Kolba City, from 1958 to 1962, later and respectively landing him at the Government Morning School and the William V.S. Tubman High School in Monrovia between the years 1963 to 1971.
Desirous of furthering his education and with the assistance of a brother, Mr. Isaac Manjoe, travelled to the United States of America and matriculated to the University of Texas at Arlington, where he respectively earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism/Communication and Master of Science degree in Political Science.
Returning home in 1980 to meaningfully contribute his quota to the nation-building process, “Uncle Tom” withstood all odds associated with the practices of journalism particularly within an under-developed or developing setting spelling dictatorship and militarism, although a true activist and advocate of democracy and human rights, grossly misunderstood he became.
However earning him several key positions in the media, in both the public and private sectors, winning him several prestigious awards amongst which were the Titus Brandsma of the International Catholic Union of the Press, the Duke Fellowship Award for Bravery and the Human Rights Watch Award for Excellent Reporting on Human Issues, “Uncle Tom” married to lovely Rachel Nurse in 1993 and served as his own creation, the New Democrat Newspaper which he established in the same year as Managing Editor up to his demise, not fond of been a mere title-bearer or carrier, since he had always believed in professional results.
Bespeaking about the life lived by “Uncle Tom” and the immense contributions made in the transformation of society, attendance of ceremonies held to mark his home-going became glaring proof.
Among several dignitaries attending the funeral were Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mrs. Kartumu Boakai, wife of Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, former Interim President Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer, Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods, Ambassador Conmany Best Wesseh, former Speaker Morris Momolu Dukuly and former Director-General of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation, Mr. Francis Carbah.
From what others may view as his core group, particularly militants of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) were former National Elections Commission Chairman James Fromayan, former LPMC Deputy Managing Director Joseph Farkollie, Mr. Yarsuo Weh Dorliae, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Tarnue Mawolo, Cllr. Kanie Wehso and ‘slow-but-sure’ Koffa, among hundreds. Very certain as this columnist is, had retired Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia, His Grace Michael Kpakala Francis, been in good health, he would have surely attended, been a mentor of many who are still searching for the TRUTH.
The deceased leaves to mourn his loss a daughter, Nuntalee Siah Kamara who resides in the United Kingdom, two adopted children, Sheba and Hannah-Rach, two brothers, David Kamara and Isaac S. Manjoe respectively of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United States, several cousins, nephews, in-laws and a host of other relatives and friends.
Again, in the true teaching of Mary Baker Eddy, the home-going of Mr. Thomas Saa Kemore Kamara ought to remind all humankind that “Truth has no consciousness of error. Love has no sense of hatred. Life has no partnership with death. Truth, Life, and Love are a law of annihilation to everything unlike themselves, because they declare nothing except God.”
Following the reading of several tributes by the Church, State and the family that included his life sketch, his body was later interred in Brewersville, outside Monrovia.